A friend of mine mailed this story to me. Please read to learn.
When Mr. Simple Nwokoro left his father's home in Nnewi on June 7 on a trip to Lagos where he resides, he had no premonition he was on his way to a sexual jamboree. He also never imagined he was going to witness what he called "body exhibition". But that was exactly what happened when he found himself in the early hours of Wednesday rolling on the ground and begging for his life to be spared at Benin-Ore Expressway near Edo State.
It was a nightmare, which he describes as the stealing of human rights by the gun. And he says the memory would remain with him for the rest of his life.
The curious irony in Nwokoro's tale, however, is that although he had been hearing gory tales of how people lost their lives or belongings to armed robbers, he never believed it could happen to him in real life.
Boarding Ekene Dili Chukwu luxury bus
"I felt like changing my mind at seeing the bus scheduled for Lagos at the Ekene Dili Chukwu bus terminus. I tried to shake off the funny feeling, reminding myself that accidents, or attacks happen to vehicles where children of God are absent. But the fear increased when the bus, which had only 27 passengers, left the terminus without an armed escort. "The journey was smooth at the beginning until we got to Onitsha to pick more passengers. A hefty man was chosen to serve as escort without a weapon."
He confessed that throughout his travels by night bus he had never experienced a thorough search like that carry out at the bus terminus. "The bus management gave us a thorough search and asked that every luggage be kept in the boot of the vehicle. When we got Onitsha another search was carried out on every passenger."
"We approached Asaba tollgate at about 1.30 a.m. We met a police checkpoint and a very unusual thing happened. The policemen ordered all of us out and conducted another search. A more thorough one at that; this puzzled all the passengers. This kind of thing never happened on a night trip. But we were all happy it happened for it gave us more confidence that armed robbers would harass the vehicle."
Welcome to Benin
"With much confidence in my heart and other passengers, I fell asleep. At exactly 2 a.m., I heard something a gunshot that awakened me from slumber, and someone ran quickly past me from the back seat. At first, I felt the noise was from outside but my fears were confirmed when I saw the driver of the bus slowing down at the orders of an armed man."
"Later, three gunmen joined their colleague at the front wheel. With stern orders the driver was asked to take the vehicle to a nearby bush. The lights went off, they ordered us to shut the window curtains. The armed men mocked us, saying, You thought the police did a thorough search abi?' When the vehicle finally parked at the premises of an isolated school in the bush, everybody was asked to come down one at a time. They searched us from head to toe and stripped everyone of their personal belongings, ranging from handsets and huge sums of money. And for those who did not have anything to give, severe beatings and gunshot injuries were their rewards."
"We all thought they were through with us after robbing us of all we had, until I heard a command that, "everybody man, woman, old, and young should take off their clothes. It was a shock. In order not to visit God untimely, we all obeyed. Standing stark naked before these men, who acted God, we were asked to pick any woman of our choice among the women passengers and have sex. The ladies were few, but out of fear we forced our minds to act. The ladies were so willing and pleaded with those of us that were reluctant to have a feel of them. For the men without partners, they watched the show', but were later asked to take their turns. There was a particular lady that refused to allow any man to touch her, one of the armed robbers forced the barrel of his gun into her private part and everywhere was bloody."
The march past
"As if the show was not enough, these men of the underworld lined us up like soldiers and asked everyone to march naked. Our begging fell on deaf ears as they insisted, and one of them said, Una f--k finish na to march be work?' Again, like people whose lives depended on it, we marched at their command."
The police experience
"These men left us and took away the driver and our luggages in the bus. The police came to the scene 30 minutes after we had managed to gather our scattered clothes. Why it took them so long to come and rescue us only God knows. On hearing our tales, the policemen went after the robbers but returned without success. They, however, took the injured victims to the hospital. They could not help take us back to Onitsha so we passed the night at the robbery scene. At 6 a.m. we found our way to the expressway and became emergency beggars . We got some money and found a lorry loaded with foodstuff heading towards Onitsha and some of us boarded it. Others joined other available vehicles.
Suspects foul play
"On getting to the terminus at Onitsha, the attitude of the management of the bus made me feel the operation was planned with their connivance. The officials we met at the Onitsha terminus told us there was nothing they could do to help us; that we should get ourselves to Nnewi. Somehow, through a stroke of fate, we got to Nnewi terminus at exactly 10 a.m. The Operation Manager, Mr. Ebujorgwu Ifaikanwane, told us to go home and come back in the evening, promising that by then something would have been done to retrieve our stolen luggages.
"When I returned at 6.30 p.m. the same day, the Maintenance Manager, Mr. Nwosu, told me the police at Abudu in Benin had found the bus and arrested the driver and conductor. Where they found the conductor, who returned to Onitsha with us, sounded funny. Mr. Nwosu, however, said the bus would be returned to them the next day. This was untrue, for the bus returned to the station on Friday, exactly two days later. Our luggage was found, but some items were missing, which we suspected the police took away."
Nwokoro alleges that the police at Asaba tollgate and the management of Ekene Dili Chukwu at Nnewi had prior knowledge that there was going to be robbery operation that night. "First, it started with the absence of an escort, then the unusual thorough search at Asaba tollgate by the police. And my wife, who on hearing about the incident after I told her on phone, went to confirm at their station, but was told our bus had arrived Lagos. But it was false. And I strongly suspect that the police search team at Asaba planted the five guns used by the robbers, because there was a previous search at Nnewi. Though the patrol policemen helped the injured victims, I still believe it was all planned. They must have come to check if the operation was successful.
"I never knew this was what it felt like to find oneself on a highway robbery scene. People lose their lives, properties and get exposed to contracting HIV/AIDS. Night travel should be banned. What if we all died that night? Or even living now with an infection? Won't it affect our families? The government should check the police; they are more like the robbers on the highway. They collude with them. And security should be beefed up on the highways."
Reaction from Ekene Dili Chukwu
Though the Nnewi Ekene Dili Chukwu management could not be reached as at press time, all efforts to get in touch with the Lagos branch managers of the company proved impossible as they were either not on sit or refused to answer calls.